Travis County Commissioners have approved a resolution by a vote of 4-to-0 supporting the construction of State Highway 45 Southwest. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty pushed for the resolution, after campaigning on getting the roadway built. He says population growth and traffic congestion demands action. And he believes the road could be built while protecting natural resources, despite a pending environmental review from TxDOT and push-back from environmentalists and stakeholders in the area.
SH 45 SW would connect MoPac and FM 1626 in Hays County; relieving traffic congestion on Brodie Lane and providing drivers a direct route to MoPac and downtown Austin. However, progress on SH 45 SW has been delayed for the past decade because of political, financial and environmental debates – just the latest in the project’s 28-year saga.
Today's commissioners vote reverses a decision to pull the county's support for the highway project.
Under the Capital Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2035 Plan, SH 45 SW would be a 4-Lane toll road with an estimated cost of $93 million. SH 45 SW would also run through the environmentally sensitive Barton Springs recharge zone and parts of the Balcones Canyonland Preserve, raising concerns over the safety of drinking water contamination and threats to endangered wildlife. In response, TxDOT and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority launched a new $4 million environmental study this past June that would consider green roadway designs suggested by the Green Mobility Challenge.
Additionally, while public information campaigns sponsored by TxDOT and the Mobility Authority stress the project’s sustainable design and alleviation of traffic congestion, opponents argue that it will increase MoPac traffic and ultimately pollute Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer.
Though project construction is not set to begin until after TxDOT's environmental analysis and outreach efforts with citizens in the community, Daugherty told The Statesman that he expects the project to break ground in 2015.